The luxury of loving Italy… These are the very last words of Italian Hours, a collection of essays which the great Henry James wrote about the bel paese more than a century ago, and which I have recently read with great interest.
My love for the bel paese has always been closely related to my passion for fine leather bags. And when I say “fine leather bags”, I don’t necessarily mean Gucci or Prada – even though I would not turn the precious item down if you offered me one. Since I first set foot in Italy, I have always revelled in discovering and supporting lesser-known artisan leather brands.
I had been to Venice a hundred times before, at least, and never, ever had I witnessed the phenomenon which I had been reading and hearing about for more than twenty years. And then it happened, at long last, on the 5th of November 2017. I was there and I saw it: Venice’s spectacular acqua alta. Its high water.
Last month, I got into my car early in the morning, on a Tuesday, and drove down to the lovely medieval town of Assisi, situated in the very heart of Umbria.
I think I have already told you this once, perhaps even twice: I have been in love with linen and fabrics for a very long time, especially Italian ones.
Lying just a leisurely ten minutes’ walk from our Palazzo Ca’nova, one of my favourite shops in Venice happens to be successfully run by a highly talented fabric designer: Chiarastella Cattana.
Every time I travel between Florence and Lucca – I must have done it a hundred times, – I drive through the charming medieval town of Pistoia, famous throughout Europe for its impressive and well-organized plant nurseries. And every time, without fail, I make the same resolution: “Ok, next time, I will stop and visit one or two of these nurseries.”
A resolution which, as you may have guessed, I haven’t yet fulfilled. Well, not entirely fulfilled, I should say. For I finally did stop in Pistoia a few weeks ago, urged to do so by my friend Molly, who invited me to join her in the heart of the Tuscan city.
During the time when I was working on the renovation of our Palazzo Ca’nova, I took countless walks in the area around it, just to explore, stretch my legs, get some fresh air…
On one occasion, I ended up on the Campo dell’Angelo Raffaele, a lovely piazza in the Dorsoduro neighbourhood. I have no idea how I landed up there, but this is the rule in Venice: getting lost in its labyrinth always leads you to the best surprises.
Good news, I’m starting to be “with it” as far as social media are concerned.
You may remember the article I posted in late August about the Trust & Travel Instagram account we had just created. Now I recently went a step further with this popular photo-sharing service by hosting a special “Instagram event” in our Palazzo Ca’nova apartments in Venice.
You may remember, dear readers, that I recently wrote an article about the festive sagre, these celebrations held in myriad villages and towns in Italy, all year round, and during which you can taste local delicacies and enjoy a most convivial atmosphere.
A few weeks ago, in the lovely village of Montisi, south-east of Siena, I discovered the Sagra del Primo Olio, entirely dedicated to the freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil, and a great opportunity for the uninitiated to see how this magic nectar is actually produced.